CENTRAL PARK is delighted to be the home of hurdling given it now stages all three major jumps events with the Grand National and Champion Hurdle joining the Cearnsport Springbok, the novice hurdlers’ championship,
Dating back to White City, London, in 1937, the Springbok has a great history of helping progress the careers of some of the leading hurdlers the sport has seen, with a host of Grand National and Champion Hurdle winners starting out in this competition.
Roger Cearns, whose family built the Springbok’s former home Wimbledon Stadium, has cemented his love affair with hurdles racing since taking over as Central Park promoter, and is overseeing the third running of the Springbok at the Kent venue.
He says: “We first staged the Springbok here in 2017 and its the perfect way for novice hurdlers to progress in this code of greyhound racing, which I have always been a real supporter of. I always wanted Central Park to be the home of hurdles racing - now it is!”
He announced recently that the RPGTV Champion Hurdle will join its roster of major hurdles events at Central Park in 2019, which means the ‘triple crown’ of top jumps events will be staged in Kent - and there is a £10,000 bonus for any greyhound who wins all three.
“My intention by offering the bonus was to increase quality, and judging by the standard of hurdling during this year’s Springbok that’s been achieved. We’ve seen some tremendous racing, and I’m sure the winner and the other finalists will be back for the Grand National and Champion Hurdle.”
Cornamaddy Jumbo, trained by Mark Wallis, is the only greyhound who have won the triple crown of major hurdles events - he won the Springbok, Champion Hurdle and Grand National in 2015 - and that will be target for the owners and trainers of this year’s Springbok finalists.
Last year’s winner Lenson Wilson went on to win the Champion Hurdle at Towcester and his trainer Ricky Holloway is represented again this year with Burgess Brandy. Holloway has won four Springboks in total - two as an owner and two as a trainer.
Seamus Cahill, trainer of Droopys Trawler, has four Springbok titles to his name and is the most successful handler in modern Springbok history, although the Rees family number no less than eight Springbok victories during the event’s White City and Wimbledon years.
Barry O’Sullivan (Jumeirah Boss) and Ernie Gaskin (Mane Mane) also feature on the Springbok roll of honour, as does the Mullins name given Linda Mullins, mother of trainer David (Piemans Bullet), is another Springbok-winning trainer.
Central Park management wish connections of all the finalists the best of luck and hope to see them represented in the Grand National - the final of which will be staged on Sunday, April 28.
Trap 1: Droopys Trawler
Owner: Tommy Smith
Trainer: Seamus Cahill, Hove
Successful on the flat for Andrew Wood when winning last year’s Northern Puppy Derby at Newcastle, Droopys Trawler was bought from the Scottish trainer by Tommy Smith, an owner with Pat Rosney, and won races for the pair at Nottingham before an indiscretion saw him switched to hurdling. Sent by Smith to Seamus Cahill, Droopys Trawler was schooled by Barry O’Sullivan and now lines up in the Springbok final looking to land former champion trainer Cahill a fifth success in the event. Droopys Trawler lacks experience over the jumps but is improving with each run.
Trap 2: Piemans Bullet
Owners: Piemans Racing Club
Trainer: David Mullins, Romford
The oldest runner in the race with a wealth of experience on the flat, heavyweight Piemans Bullet has run in a number of major events including the Derby, Eclipse and Gold Cup, reaching semi-finals at Nottingham and Monmore. A regular 575m winner on the flat at Romford, he therefore has proven stamina, but is also known as a preferred front runner and made virtually all in the heats before staying on behind Burgess Brandy in the semis last week. Victory for Romford trainer Mullins would see him emulate mother Linda’s success with Raffles Nitespot at Wimbledon in 1986.
Trap 3: Burgess Brandy
Owner: Ricky Holloway
Trainer: Ricky Holloway, Central Park
Arrived with a good reputation on the flat having raced unbeaten through the Red Mills Future Champion Unraced at Enniscorthy before representing Ireland’s Peter Cronin in the English Derby last year at Towcester where he reached the second round. Switched to the hurdles after joining his current trainer, Burgess Brandy looks to improve owner and trainer Holloway’s good record in the Springbok. He numbers wins for Westmead Meteor and Lenson Wilson as a trainer and with Rossa Ranger and Kaysers Hill as an owner. Burgess Brandy is so far unbeaten in the event.
Trap 4 Vacant
Trap 5: Jumeirah Boss (m)
Owner: Steve Lemar
Trainer: Barry O’Sullivan, Central Park
A Galway winner on the flat, Jumeirah Boss only joined renowned trainer of hurdlers Barry O’Sullivan in December so has defied inexperience to make the Springbok final having struck here at Central Park over 642m on the flat in January - he clearly stays well. Lines up as outsider of the field, but comes from a kennel which has schooled a number of Springbok and Grand National winners over the years. O’Sullivan himself trained Reculver Ozzie to win this event at Wimbledon in 2015 and Jumeirah Boss take this chance in this decider as the youngest finalist.
Trap 6: Mane Mane (m)
Owner: Tom Mumford
Trainer: Ernie Gaskin, Unattached
A sprint winner on the flat on his UK debut at Hove for his trainer and previous owners, Mane Mane was subsequently purchased by Tom Mumford for a crack at the Springbok and a hurdles career. Schooled by his handler, he is unbeaten in three hurdles races here - a trial stakes, plus heat and semi-final - and starts favourite to lift the £5,000 prize. Ernie Gaskin has not trained a huge amount of hurdlers over the years, but did send out the 2007 Springbok winner at Wimbledon in the shape of Blackmagic Jamie, and will hope stripes-drawn Mane Mane hits his rivals for six in the final?
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